hemp cbd vs. cannabis cbd

If you’ve been reading into getting CBD oil, you might notice that some oils are labelled ‘hemp’ CBD oil while others are labeled ‘cannabis’ CBD oil. You might wonder what the difference is.

In short, hemp CBD oil comes from hemp while cannabis CBD oil comes from cannabis. Simple, huh? Not really.

The difference between hemp CBD oil and cannabis CBD oil can be a little contentious because the difference between hemp and cannabis is contentious. The binary of cannabis and hemp, much like the binary of sativa and indica, is pretty unclear.

Hemp and cannabis both come from the same genus of Cannabis plants. Both hemp and cannabis contain cannabinoids. These cannabinoids are the ‘active ingredients’ in the plants. They interact with your endocannabinoid system to produce different effects on your body.

While there are over 60 cannabinoids out there, the two that are the most prevalent are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC gets you high, while CBD does not.

US law defines hemp as the parts of the Cannabis Sativa plant containing no psychoactive properties. In general, sativa is said to have low amounts of THC while indica is meant to have higher amounts of THC. But the line between sativa and indica is very shady, because the plants have been interbred over the years.

Another tricky part? Many governments and institutions define hemp as containing 0.3 percent THC or less. Any more THC and it is likely to get you high, making it cannabis. The problem with this is that 0.3 percent is an arbitrary number. Even the person who came up with the definition, Ernest Small, notes that it’s arbitrary. In his book, ‘The Species Problem in Cannabis: Science & Semantics,’ he said that cannabis and hemp shouldn’t be seen as totally different plants, but a spectrum of variations of one plant.

The most important difference between hemp CBD oil and cannabis CBD oil is that hemp CBD oil is legal in most places while cannabis CBD oil is not. Since the 1970s, the Controlled Substances Act classified hemp as a schedule I drug, making it a controlled substance. Some farms in certain states were allowed to grow hemp for research purposes, but they weren’t technically allowed to sell it. Nevertheless, some growers did. Despite this, the Drug Enforcement Agency didn’t actually prosecute anyone for selling hemp. In December 2018, a new law made hemp fully legal to grow and sell in the US.

Cannabis, however, is not legal all over the US yet. This makes hemp CBD oil a little more easy to access than cannabis CBD oil.

The more you dig into the laws surrounding cannabis, hemp, and CBD, the more you realize that it’s based on arbitrary and scientifically contentious ideas.

Laws aside, the difference between hemp CBD oil and cannabis CBD oil could lie in something called the ‘entourage effect’. This is the idea that CBD works better when other cannabinoids are present. For this reason, full-spectrum CBD oil, which contains tiny amounts of other cannabinoids, is often favored over CBD isolate, which contains CBD and CBD alone.

The measurement of cannabinoids will vary from brand to brand, and it will also vary depending on whether it’s derived from hemp or cannabis. In this case, look at the individual packages for information. You might find that one brand of cannabis CBD oil contains the same measurements of cannabinoids as a particular bottle of hemp CBD oil. However, since cannabis contains higher amounts of THC, you’ll probably find higher concentrations of THC in full-spectrum cannabis CBD oil.

When it comes down to it, the difference between cannabis and hemp is primarily the law. When choosing between hemp CBD oil and cannabis CBD oil, you’ll want to consider the law in your particular country or state. You’ll also want to consider the issue of access. Even in some countries where cannabis is legal, hemp CBD oil might be easier to find.

In upcoming years, more research will be conducted on cannabis, and we’ll begin to understand it better. Hopefully, this will encourage governments to stop making laws based on outdated science and arbitrary classifications.


Sian is a writer, journalist and editor who covers cannabis, health, and social justice. Her work can be found on HealthlineTeen VogueEveryday FeminismHealthyWayand HelloGiggles. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

why do we get cotton mouth?

Spit is underrated.

Even the word itself sounds gross, maybe even a little rude. In reality, saliva is essential to living. We need saliva to keep our mouth moist—another gross word—and to help us eat, talk, and breathe comfortably. Saliva is the first phase of digestion, as it helps break down carbohydrates. Most of us don’t really think about our saliva unless we have a salivary disorder, or unless we face the dreaded cotton mouth.

Cotton mouth, also known as dry mouth, is an unfortunate side-effect of consuming cannabis. That dry, sticky, uncomfortable feeling you get in your mouth after smoking a joint or eating an edible is all too familiar to many cannabis consumers, yet few of us know what causes it.

I previously thought smoke dries out our mouths. Eventually, I realized that you could also get cotton mouth if you consume cannabis in the form of tinctures or edibles, suggesting that cannabis, not smoke, is to blame.

So how does cannabis cause cotton mouth?

Firstly, let’s look at the bigger picture: the endocannabinoid system. Every mammal has an endocannabinoid system, which is affected by cannabinoids—the ‘active ingredients’ in cannabis. The endocannabinoid system affects our skin, nervous system, digestion, and many other organs and physiological functions within our bodies. It also affects our salivary glands.

Because saliva is so important, we have three main salivary glands: the parotid glands, sublingual glands and submandibular glands. Our submandibular glands produce around 60% of our saliva.

A 2004 paper used lab rats to investigate the phenomenon of cotton mouth. They found that the salivary gland known as the ‘parotid gland’ is affected by one of our cannabinoid receptors.

Similarly, a 2006 paper found that receptors in the submandibular glands were affected by THC. Anandamine, one of the most well-known endocannabinoids, seems to reduce the amount of saliva we produce. When we ingest cannabis, anandamine is ‘activated’, so to speak, and the salivary glands are put on pause.

Some people seem to suffer from cotton mouth more than others. So far, scientists aren’t too sure why this is. What we do know is that it seems that THC is the culprit when it comes to cotton mouth. If you want to avoid cotton mouth while still enjoying cannabis, low-THC strains might be your best bet.

If you’re still keen on high-THC strains, there are a few things you can do to reduce cotton mouth. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco, as these all dehydrate your body and can decrease the amount of saliva you produce. Instead, keep sipping water, munch on some ice, and chew gum to help increase the production of saliva. There are also some medications available to treat dry mouth, so speak to your doctor if it becomes a chronic problem.

Something else to consider is avoiding smoking cannabis. While you can get cotton mouth no matter how you consume cannabis, some people find that it’s less severe when they use tinctures, vapes, or edibles as opposed to smoking. While the smoke isn’t the primary culprit of cotton mouth, it can make your mouth and throat feel uncomfortable, which can exacerbate the feeling. Consider switching over if you want to avoid drying out your mouth.

While cotton mouth can be unpleasant, the science behind it is fascinating. It’s a reminder that the endocannabinoid system has a far-reaching effect on many of our physiological processes, and a reminder that there are so many things we still don’t understand about the science of cannabis.


Sian is a writer, journalist and editor who covers cannabis, health, and social justice. Her work can be found on Healthline, Teen Vogue, Everyday Feminism, HealthyWay, HelloGiggles and more. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

is raw cannabis good for you?

Whether you prefer edibles, vapes, bongs, pipes, or an old-fashioned joint, there’s usually one element that exists among all the popular methods of consuming cannabis: heat.

You’ve probably heard of THC and CBD, two of the many cannabinoids found in cannabis. The acidic versions of THC and CBD—THCA and CBDA— as well as other cannabinoids are found in raw cannabis. Heat ‘activates’ these cannabinoids, so that humans can feel the effects. This process is called decarboxylation.

In other words, heat is essential to cannabis consumption if you want to reap the benefits of THC and CBD. Heat is what makes it possible to feel high, and it’s why cannabis can be used to treat anxiety, seizures, insomnia, and more.

However, for the past few years, many people have been praising the benefits of raw cannabis. In an article for Forbes, wellness writer Kristian Astre writes: “Without being heated, THCA doesn’t have any psychotropic effects but still offers some benefits including decreasing inflammation, treating nausea and loss of appetite, improving sleep issues like insomnia and reducing chronic pain.” Multiple cannabis-specific publications, from Massroots’ blog to The Fresh Toast, have also covered the trend.

One of the biggest advocates for raw cannabis consumption is William Courtney, MD, a California-based physician. Courtney believes that fresh cannabis should be a normal part of everybody’s diet, and he suggests juicing cannabis regularly to benefit from the plant.

According to Courtney, one of the benefits of raw cannabis as opposed to heated cannabis is that raw cannabis is not psychoactive. Since we need to heat THCA to get THC, the intoxicating element of cannabis, raw cannabis cannot get you high. This is good news for those of us who want to reap the benefits of cannabis without feeling intoxicated. Consuming raw cannabis will feel totally different to consuming cannabis through smoking, vaping, edibles, and tinctures—and it can have different effects on your body.

So what exactly are these effects? What does the scientific research say about the benefits of raw cannabis?

Unfortunately, not much. At present, there is very little research out there that focuses specifically on raw cannabis.

There are, however, some studies on THCA and CBDA, the acidic versions of cannabinoids. Studies have suggested that THCA and CBDA can have the following benefits:

Additionally, many believe that raw cannabis, being a leafy green plant, contains vitamins and fiber.

Unfortunately, these studies are mostly based on mice models or are in vitro studies, meaning that they use cells in a lab environment to test out a hypothesis. There aren’t any definitive human-based studies that confirm the benefits of raw cannabis. That’s not to say that it isn’t beneficial, but simply that we don’t yet know.

The verdict? Much like most areas of cannabis science, the benefits of raw cannabis haven’t been studied enough for us to make a claim about it. In future years, as cannabis becomes legal in more places, further research will be conducted. Hopefully, this will include in-depth research on raw cannabis and the acidic versions of cannabinoids.

You might still be tempted to add raw cannabis to your diet. If you want to try raw cannabis, get fresh leaves or buds straight off the plant. When you buy cannabis from a dealer or dispensary, the buds are usually cured and not fresh. Wash them thoroughly before you use them, as you would with any fruit or vegetable, to avoid consuming pesticides. Raw cannabis can be added to a salad or smoothie, or it could be juiced. Note that it tastes a little bitter, and it might take time for you to get used to the taste.


Sian is a writer, journalist and editor who covers cannabis, health, and social justice. Her work can be found on HealthlineTeen VogueEveryday FeminismHealthyWayand HelloGiggles. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

cannabis hyperemesis syndrome

Let’s imagine that one day you feel a sudden pain in your belly. That pain is accompanied by a nausea so bad that you totally lose your appetite. Later, you start vomiting incessantly. It doesn’t seem to be anything you ate, and you have no idea what caused it.

Desperate for relief, many cannabis users might reach for a joint, a cannabis tincture, or CBD oil. After all, research has shown us that cannabis has anti-nausea, pain-relieving, and appetite-stimulating abilities.

But what if cannabis isn’t the best cure? What if it’s the cause?

Cannabis hyperemesis syndrome is a poorly-understood condition. But, as cannabis becomes legal in more places around the world, it’s crucial to understand more about it.

The symptoms of cannabis hyperemesis syndrome include extreme vomiting, nausea, and loss of appetite. The symptoms last between 24-48 hours, but they might return if you continue to use cannabis. If left untreated, it can lead to dehydration and renal failure—and the only way to treat it is to stop consuming cannabis products, even if only temporarily.

Many people don’t believe the condition really exists. After all, governments have had a long history of exaggerating and even fabricating the risks of using cannabis. So it’s understandable that many activists think the condition is invented to undermine legalization efforts. The condition was first recorded in a 2004 paper, and in 2006 the paper was criticized for poor study design.

So, it’s understandable that some cannabis users and activists are wary of the concept of CHS. But as more and more cannabis research is conducted, we’re beginning to see that it is indeed a real thing.

It’s possible to experience cannabis hyperemesis symptoms after using it for years without any problem. In fact, a 2014 article suggests that the condition is actually caused by chronic cannabis use.

A 2011 paper detailed how one man was admitted to hospital after experiencing extreme stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. Eventually, he was diagnosed with cannabis hyperemesis syndrome.

Similarly, cannabis advocate Alice Moon was diagnosed with cannabis hyperemesis syndrome in mid-2018. According to RxLeaf, Moon used cannabis products for many years. She started experiencing extreme nausea and vomiting, and after eliminating certain foods from her diet, she realized cannabis was the culprit.

So, what helps people with cannabis hyperemesis syndrome? Heat. In the 2011 paper mentioned above, it was noted that prolonged, hot showers eased the patient’s symptoms. Other research notes that people with the condition tend to take hot baths or showers because it seems to bring them relief. Topical capsaicin—yup, pepper extract—seems to soothe the symptoms.

This is because the condition might be caused by overstimulating the TRPV1 receptor in our brain. This receptor is stimulated by heat, peppers, and cannabis. The idea is that the TRPV1 gets overstimulated, it shuts down. The brain responds to this by causing frequent vomiting.

That’s just one possible explanation for what causes cannabis hyperemesis syndrome. It could be caused by a cannabinoid overload, or a reaction to pesticides caused by growing practices, or something else. Unfortunately, more studies need to be done before we totally understand what causes it.

If you think you might have cannabis hyperemesis syndrome, stop using cannabis for a while. Within a week, your symptoms will start easing up, according to the research. Speak to a doctor about your symptoms. For short-term symptom relief, hot showers and warm compresses might help.

Scientific research has shown us that cannabis has a range of healing powers and that it can help many people. But we also can’t ignore the limitations of the plant, nor can we ignore the fact that it coult harm some people. After all, cannabis is a form of medicine and, as with all forms of medicine, cannabis can have side effects.

There’s still a lot that we don’t know about cannabis hyperemesis syndrome. But for now, it’s worth noting that it does exist, and it can be fatal. When it comes to your health, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and stay informed about conditions that might affect you.


Sian is a writer, journalist and editor who covers cannabis, health, and social justice. Her work can be found on HealthlineTeen VogueEveryday FeminismHealthyWayand HelloGiggles. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

throwing out the indica vs. sativa binary

One of the foundational facts we’re told about cannabis is that there are two types: indica and sativa. When you shop for cannabis online or in a dispensary, you’ll notice that most of the cannabis is divided into those two categories.

  • Cannabis indica is associated with short, bushy plants with broad leaves, and it’s meant to produce a relaxing, mellow high.
  • Cannabis sativa is associated with tall, sparse plants with narrow leaves and it’s believed to produce an ‘energizing’ high.

The indica/sativa binary was first introduced by taxonomist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in 1785. He described the genus, Cannabis, as having two species: Cannabis indica and C. sativa.

More and more, though, experts are starting to reject this binary. One such expert is Ethan Russo, MD, a neurologist, psychopharmacology researcher and cannabinoid expert. “There are biochemically distinct strains of Cannabis, but the sativa/indica distinction as commonly applied in the lay literature is total nonsense and an exercise in futility,” he explained in one interview.

The more that we study cannabis genetics, the more that we are realizing that cannabis is more complicated than we thought. In a popular Medium post, Alisha Holloway, PhD, points out that cannabis genetics is an often misunderstood and enigmatic subject. This confusion often leads to the confusion about the indica vs. sativa binary.

Cannabis sativa is associated with hot climates, and is associated with the Americas, while Cannabis indica originated in the cold mountainous regions of India. However, the two are now cross-bred by growers who want to produce cannabis with certain properties. This practice led to the recognition of a third category for cannabis: hybrids. Some estimate that hybrids are so common that it’s hard to find ‘pure’ indica or sativa cannabis in some areas.

It’s important to remember that how a plant looks—the phenotype—can be different to how a plant affects you when you consume it. The terpenes, cannabinoid content, and even factors like where it was grown and how it was harvested could influence the way it affects the consumer, Holloway points out.

Now, when we selectively breed for cannabis plants, the resulting hybrid ‘child’ might take on the appearance of one parent plant and the cannabinoid make-up of another. Their terpenes might be similar to one parent, and they might be as tall as the other. It might look like an indica, but feel like a sativa to whoever consumes it.

As Russo put it, “One cannot in any way currently guess the biochemical content of a given Cannabis plant based on its height, branching, or leaf morphology. The degree of interbreeding/hybridization is such that only a biochemical assay tells a potential consumer or scientist what is really in the plant.” You can’t look at the leaves or height of a plant and say for certain how the high will feel.

Because of this, you might wonder: when we label cannabis ‘sativa’ or ‘indica’, should we base it on the way the plant looks, or the effect it produces?

And if we were to base it on the latter, why can’t we simply use words like ‘energizing’ or ‘soothing’, instead of these not-so-scientific labels?

Does that mean we should throw out these terms altogether? Perhaps. Russo suggests that, instead of using the indica/sativa binary to describe strains, we demand that accurate profiles of the cannabinoid make-up and terpenes are made available.

It’s a complex issue, for sure - and many experts have explained that the nomenclature and taxonomy of cannabis is complicated. It’s very hard for scientists and other experts to reach a consensus on how to define and categorize cannabis plants.

But don’t buy into bad science. Instead of asking a budtender for ‘indica’ or ‘sativa’ effects, be specific. Do you want cannabis that’s relaxing? Energizing? Euphoria-inducing? Soothing? Would you like edibles that help you focus, sleep, get creative? Or are you looking for something to reduce inflammation, pain, or anxiety?

Thanks in part to growers who selectively breed plants for specific properties, there’s a great variation in what cannabis can do for you—what it can feel like, what it can help you achieve, and what it can heal. To reduce this range of properties to two simple categories is misguided.


Sian is a writer, journalist and editor who covers cannabis, health, and social justice. Her work can be found on Healthline, Teen Vogue, Everyday Feminism, HealthyWay, and HelloGiggles. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter.